Little Royal

Little Royal

Razor Blade – Little Royal and The Swingmasters

It’s difficult to imagine that Royal Torrence had no idea what rock and roll was as a young boy in the south. When the singer joined his Uncle Bill Weaver’s Washington, DC gospel group in his twenties he only knew spiritual songs. Torrence became the leader of the group, which transitioned to rock and roll at Weaver’s suggestion, and was therefore known as Little Royal and the Swingmasters.

One evening in 1963, Torrence had a chance encounter with James Brown at The Howard Theatre. The Godfather of Soul told him they looked like brothers and introduced Torrence to promoter James Dudley. Soon Little Royal and the Swingmasters were touring with Smokey Robinson and The Miracles and The Temptations.

In 1967 Torrence released his first 45—“I Can Tell”/ “You Made Me Love You” on Carnival Records. In 1972 Little Royal and the Swingmasters, which featured horn player Andrew Sims, Marvin Shears on drums, and Burnett Jackson on bass, released their “Jealous” LP on Torrence and producers Huey P. Meaux and Stanley Little’s Tri-Us label. The LP contained the hits “Jealous,” “I’ll Come Crawling,” “Razor Blade,” “Panama Red,” and “Soul Train.”

“Jealous” was produced by Meaux and Little in Houston, Texas and recorded in Norfolk, Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee, and distributed by Starday-King Records, James Brown’s former label. Torrence created a popular dance for the instrumental track “Razor Blade” when he appeared on the Cincinnati, Ohio television program, “Soul Street.” In 1973 Torrence released another 45 on Tri-Us—“Keep Pushing Your Luck”/”(I Want To Be Free) Don’t Want Nobody Standing Over Me.”

Beginning in 1983 Torrence released several crossover beach music singles including “Groovin” and “Down On The Sand” on Firestone and Flame Records respectively, which played from Virginia to Florida.

Little Royal and the Swingmasters rarely play in Washington, DC but still perform on occasion at Westminster DC’s Blue Monday Blues. These days ambiguity surrounds Torrence’s exact location, which is exactly how he likes it.

“Even to today I’m in town and nobody knows I’m in town,” says Torrence. Little Royal & The Swingmasters have been sampled by Masta Ace, Ice-T, J Dilla, and Lord Finesse.


You can purchase Little Royal’s music here.

Mmm, mmm, mmm.
9 Responses to Little Royal
  1. Doug McKinzie Reply

    Soul Street was out of Cincinnatti Ohio, not Chicago. I was there with Little Royal when he was there, also on that TV show that day was Millie Jackson, and If not mistaken James Browns Lynn Collin”s. Little Royal and I flew out to Ohio from Atlanta to do that show and we were performing in Atlanta ,Game. That week.

  2. Doug McKinzie Reply

    Not Atlanta Game but performed in Atlanta that same week .

    • Andrea Henderson-Arroyo Reply

      I used to watch them rehearse jealous and razor blade in Roanoke Alabama. My cousin Marvin Shears played drums, and Burnett Jackson was on bass. They used Burdett Jacksons studio on his land,down the hill from my Grandmothers house. Andrew Sims is my cousin also. His name was Stanley Little, not Leroy. They rehearsed in Atlanta and recorded as well as Alabama

      • soul51 Reply

        Great info, thanks Andrea!

    • Doug McKinzie Reply

      Leroy Little not Stanley Little was the producer for Little Royal and the Bass player was Kevin Jordan , the drummer on Jealous was a guy name Jerry, I forgot his last name. Andrea Sims was on tenor Sax ,Randy Boss Trumpet,Also on Little Royal Jealous album Doug McKinzie was playing Baritone Sax.

  3. Doug McKinzie Reply

    Kevin Jordon is playing Bass Guitar on Razor Blade and Jealous by Little Royal and the Drummer was from Washington ,D.C. I forgot his last name but his first name was JerryI was with the band then and now I am the saxophonist for Little Royal and I manage his FB page, Marvin Sheers has played with the group and also Mr. Jackson but they did not record with us,

  4. Doug McKinzie Reply

    By the way My name is Doug Mckinzie and I have been with Little Royal and The Swingmasters since 1965, my brother James McKinzie was Little Royal manager at that time ,I am Little Royals Saxophonist and MC. If you need more information on the group refer to Little Royal and The Swingmasters FB page. I am glad that I have stuck with Little Royal since I was a teenager . I am now 64 turning 65 in December 2015

  5. Doug McKinzie Reply

    Doug Mckinzie I introduced Little Royal to Leroy Little at Rand’s Night Club in Washington,D.C in 1971 At that time Mr Little was a promoter for Atlantic Records . Mr Leroy Little ,Little Royal and Huey Meaux later that year formed a record Label called TRI US Records and Mr. Little recorded Little Royal in Norfolk Sounds Studios with his band The Swingmasters. Little Royal Recorded Jealous and The band Recorded Razor Blade an instrumental but prior to recording those two songs We recorded an instrumental called Panama Red and Little Royal Recorded a song called I’ll Come Crawling and That’s My Desire on TRI-US label. Jealous was Little Royals biggest hit. Recorded with his Band The Swingmasters with, Band director and Saxophonist Andre Sims,Randy Boss on Trumpet, Kevin Jordan Bass Guitar, Jerry Jordan Drums, and Donnie Chillis Guitar.Doug Mckinzie left the group for a short while after I’ll Come Crawling ,Panama Red and That’s my desire was released but, came back in time to be on Little Royals first Jealous Album. Doug Mckinzie and Donnie Chillis also wrote an instrumental on Little Royals first LP. The song was called Rainbow, The song was later removed from the first album and replaced by a song by Little Royal called I’m so Glad To Do it which was released on the Second Jealous Album. Doug McKinzie is the Baritone Saxophonist on Little Royal Jealous Album and many other Tracks by Little Royal and The Swingmasters.Little Royal performed his last show in May 2016 before becoming ill to the point that he couldn’t walk or perform. He later passed on September 29th 2016 I also play with him on his last performance in 2016. Over the years Little Royal had a number of different musicians and he was constantly rehearsing the band to update the newer players on his music.Mrs Andrea Henderson-Arroya must not have known that the band was rehearsing the already recorded songs of Little Royal in BJ Studio. BJ is a fine bass player I hated when he left the group. but as in any business people come and go.

    got a distribution deal for TRI-US label with Starday King Record company in Nashville,Tenn.

  6. Autumn Reply

    I seen them play in Myrtle Beach when I was a child in a hotel lounge bar!!! Very nice!!

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